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Bob Dylan - 1978-1989 - Both Ends Of The Rainbow  [DVD]
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By the end of 1978 most music fans whether dedicated worshippers, casual listeners or outright dissenters, knew that Bob Dylan was nothing if not unpredictable. But nobody could have guessed what was coming next. Dylan s adherence to Christian fundamentalism and the three albums he released and shows he performed in its wake - assisted greatly in making the 1980s his most controversial decade. Loved by some, detested by others, Bob both lost and gained fans via this change of faith and the single minded beliefs he now appeared to behold. But by 1984 his views had softened somewhat and during the rest of the decade he largely released albums and performed gigs of mixed quality, but generally featuring standout tracks many now revered as Dylan classics - amongst the less inspired cuts. But despite it all, this period of Dylan s life and career is one of the most controversial, fascinating and misunderstood of all. This film reviews the years from late-1978 to the release of 1989 s Oh Mercy an album that was seen by many as a huge return to form With the aid of rare Dylan footage, live and studio versions of the most pivotal songs, exclusive interviews with his closest allies from that time, contributions from Dylan experts, biographers and other commentators and many other features, this film provides the most detailed document of the 1980s according to Bob Dylan, ever made.
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Top Customer Reviews
Maybe it's the sight of such a musical icon floundering so publically, and the various reasons behind his decline, which makes this DVD so endlessly fascinating, giving those Dylan experts (including Clinton Heylin, Robert Christgau and Johnny Rogan), and commentators, and collaborators plenty to really get their teeth into with plenty of very absorbing theories and speculation. However, of course this documentary in no measure sets out to blot Bob's reputation by any means, but merely reviews events with an honesty and frankness which is very much a necessary part of the review. It's very in depth too, leaving pretty much no stone unturned in its two hour plus running time, from Bob's conversion to christanity and his trilogy of religious albums through to his writers block and the struggle in finding his own identity amid all the modern eighties sounds. However, not everything appears doom and gloom as there are some glowing reviews of some of his work on 'Infidels', not to mention the Travelling Wilburys, and his impressive comeback album 'Oh Mercy'. There is also an added bonus of some original live/video footage which was always the one drawback with the previous volumes.Read more ›
Especially Bob Dylan apparent conversion to Christianity. This film explains about what happened to Bob Dylan around this time - how he was exploited by people claiming to be a part of Christianity.
This is a very interesting film about Bob Dylan, if indeed you adore all things Bob Dylan, as I do...
Well worth buying and very illuminating about Bob Dylan.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you expect footage of live performances, there is no pot-o-gold here!
The DVD starts with extensive commentary on one of the most fascinating and controversial periods in Dylan's career. It encompasses the period marked by the three recordings that made Dylan's new Christian faith evident: Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981).
If Dylan's emergence as an icon for the counter-culture in 1965 divided the hip from the unhip, his declaration of the gospel on Slow Train Coming divided the saved from the damned. Many saw this as a betrayal. Slow Train Coming went platinum, but his next two Christian recordings charted poorly in the US, which reflected the disenchantment of some of his fans. The opinion of a record storeowner that I spoke with during that time probably reflected the views of many Dylan fans. He liked the music but didn't like the message. There was nothing subtle about it, and it was too much for many fans to handle.
What remains a mystery is where Dylan stands in relation to his faith today. One person reiterates that he has never renounced it. Dylan has chosen to keep this subject out of the limelight.
The film shows what a difficult time the eighties were for Dylan and other aging rock stars. MTV, disco and DJs took music in a new direction less favorable to rock. Dylan struggled to be successful in his recordings and performances.
Infidels (1983) was a departure from the Christian trilogy that preceded it. Dylan was once again becoming more subtle and poetic. Empire Burlesque (1985), Knocked Out Loaded (1986) and Down in the Groove (1988) charted poorly, but they contained standout tracks that are now revered as classics. The release of Oh Mercy (1989) was seen as a return to form.
The DVD feels a little long at 127 minutes, but the depth of analysis is excellent. It even provides a perspective on the politics of the time. The performance clips and appearances are brief but noteworthy, punctuating some of the highs and lows of Dylan's career.
One of the highlights is a short segment of Dylan performing "Maggie's Farm" with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It makes you wish you could see the whole song, but this is a biography and documentary.
I think the producer gets the content right. Full performances are outside the scope of this independent review and critique. One interesting bonus is an audio interview of Dylan when he was in the most fervent phase of his Christianity.
This is a must-have for fans and anyone interested in Dylan's music and career.
The film offers some fascinating insights into the albums. I would not say that I agree with all of the interviewees about the quality of one or another album. Having come to appreciate Dylan much more recently, I have had the advantage of looking at his work as a whole, all at once. Thus, I do not have the visceral reaction to some of the albums that others have. Also, as a child of the `80s, that decade does not offend me, as it seems to have many of the individuals in the film.
The documentary covers, in quite a good depth, a little discussed period in Dylan's biography. However, although segments of it were certainly filmed subsequent to Dylan's Chronicles, Vol. 1, the documentary does not benefit from access to "Tell Tale Signs," as the commentators will occasionally lament the unavailable of other versions of some of the songs that do appear on that collection. That said, it is important to understand that this is a documentary about the process of the making of Dylan's music, the critical response to it at the time of its release, and a reassessment of it with the passage of time. The film touches on Dylan's biography only to the extent that it touches on the songs themselves. If that is what you are looking for, then you will be well pleased with this film. If you are looking for something else, however, then you should look elsewhere.
this film takes over just when dylan was hitting, what is essentially, his 'trinity trilogy', the albums that truly displayed his christianity...
that's not to say that he didn't ever display his faith before (as many 'fans' seem to think...)
no, quite the contrary...on all his albums prior to, and preceeding, this period, you can find themes that deal with the spiritual side that are illuminated throughout this period...
from the brilliant "slow train coming" album to "saved" and finally "shot of love", dylan pressed his soul out on his sleeve, concerned with hearts, rather than the charts...
the fans and critics that obviously never understood him turned away at this point, but those who found it a natural flow stayed with him to present day...and this documentary continues that flow up to the "oh mercy" years, which only suggests that there will be even more great documentaries to follow...thank God...
I also was frustrated how they would take an entire album, take the hokiest song from that album, and that song alone, and play it over and over as if to say the whole album is just like this. Nothing could be farther from the truth as Dylan fans know, these are some of the most creative and sincere of his career. Lets face it, if the lyrics would have been secular, the critics would have been applauding.
Finally, after listening to the arm-chair generals knock the Live Aid performance, there was a brief cut from Farm Aid with Tom Petty. I felt this deserved more attention. That night was pivitol for Dylan. He was rejuvinated and his performance was nothing less than phenominal.
All in all I would still recommend this dvd as long as you can get by the one sided points of view.
One more thing, I liked the "Shot Of Love" cover.